The next morning, Alicia woke up early and got ready. She knew that Katie would be late, but she still wanted to be ready on time just in case a miracle occurred.
She pulled on her shirt and jacket and adjusted her hair as she made sure her case was nice and secure. She wouldn't want her stuff spilling out of the case while they were driving. Alicia looked at her phone and debated sending a message to her mom.
"Hey Mom, going to go fight vampires!" chuckled Alicia as she shook her head. "Nah, not worth bothering her," she added as her phone buzzed. It was a message from Beth telling her that she and Katie were outside.
Alicia grabbed her bag and moved towards the door. However, before she left, she gasped. "Gloves!" she remembered suddenly as she ran over to her desk and grabbed the gloves, quickly putting them on before grabbing her case and heading down to meet the girls.
"Hey!" shouted Beth as she saw Alicia leave her dorm.
"Hey! How goes?" smiled Alicia as she threw her car into the trunk.
"Pretty good!" Katie interjected. "Excited?"
"Hell yeah! I'm ready for some scares!" Alicia nodded as she climbed into the backseat.
"Katie isn't. She was shaking, earlier," smirked Beth.
"Hey! No fair!" Katie grumbled as she started the car. "I'm just saying that I get nervy!"
"It's okay, I'll keep you safe!" giggled Alicia as she relaxed into the seat and settled in for the drive.
It was a long drive, but the first half wasn't interesting. Most of it was on the freeway, and the only interesting sights were the various identical rest stops that popped up every few hours.
However, the second half was a lot more interesting. The road up into the mountains was twisty and quiet. It really felt like they were driving into some strange, magical realm.
All along the routes sat decaying signs for the Happiness Mountain amusement park. Alicia hadn't seen the place when it was open, but people she had met had said that it had been a very impressive park when it was open.
"Good atmosphere," chuckled Katie as she continued to drive.
"Yeah," nodded Beth. "It is a good setting for a haunted house."
"Really good," added Alicia as she looked out of the window. "I'm already slightly creeped out."
"Wait until you see the place," grinned Beth.
After another few hours, the top of the mountain and the theme park came into the view. It was obviously very decayed; several broken and rotting rides were visible on the skyline. Most of the buildings were derelict.
The signs on the ticket booths had banners stuck on them declaring that this was the home of Castle Of The Lamia and that those who were easily scared should, "turn back."
"This is amazing!" gasped Alicia.
"Yeah," mumbled Katie as she pulled into a parking space. The wobble in her voice made it clear that she was already feeling a little nervous.
The girls got out of the car, grabbed their cases, and made their way to the ticket booth. However, before they could look inside, a woman jumped out from behind it. Katie jumped back as the woman let out a hiss.
Alicia instinctively made a fist as she looked over the woman. Her face was caked with white paint and she had fake plastic fangs in her mouth. Alicia could only presume that her black dress was meant to look tattered but it was a little over-the-top, making it look like the dress had been rescued from a threshing machine.
"Welcome, foolish mortals!" cackled the woman, putting on a terrible Eastern European accent as she did. "Welcome to the Castle Of The Lamia, where your fears become reality!"
"Hi. Booking for three?" asked Beth, seemingly unphased by the theatrics. She held out her phone so that the woman could see her booking confirmation e-mail. The woman peered at it for a few minutes before laughing.
"Yes! Yes! Follow me! To your doom!" the woman continued to cackle as she motioned for the girls to follow her inside.
"Sure," nodded Beth as she motioned for the other two to follow her. The woman led them through the decayed park. It was clear what parts were actually decayed remnants of the old attraction and which had been fixed up and then artificially decayed for this event, but it was still a cool effect. At the center of the park sat a small castle which was currently being guarded by two women dressed a lot like the one the girls were following.
After a few minutes, the girls arrived at their room for the night. It was quite clearly a caravan that had been decorated to look vintage, but Alicia had expected that as there was no way a seasonal attraction could afford to build a hotel after all.
"This is where you shall meet your demise!" the woman cackled again as she opened the door and handed the key to Beth. "Bathroom on the right, extra towels in the basket on the floor, a light switch just inside," she added as her fake accent vanished for a few seconds.
"Great," nodded Beth as she stepped inside. Katie followed behind, obviously giving the woman a wide berth. While she wasn't as scared as she had been, it was clear she was still quite nervy.
Alicia started to step into the caravan but as she did, she heard a laugh coming from outside the room that made her head spin. "No way," gasped Alicia as she turned around and walked back towards the gate.
"Where are you going?" Katie shouted after her.
"Be right back, need to check something!" called Alicia as her walk turned into a small jog. She quickly made her way back towards the gate of the park.
As she got there, she saw three figures stood with another vampire woman. Alicia instantly recognized them: they were her mom along with Ulla and Mara. She couldn't believe it.
She took a step forward but stopped herself. There was a chance that her mom was undercover and didn't want to reveal her true identity. However, before she could finish her thought, her mother turned around and made eye-contact with Alicia.
A wave of different emotions ran across Sharon's face, from confusion to shock to amusement. She waved at Alicia and Alicia waved back, only for Sharon to beckon her over.
Alicia shrugged and quickly made her way over to her mom and her partners. As she got close, Ulla and Mara turned and spotted Alicia, their faces lighting up as they did.
When Alicia reached the group, Sharon ran over and greeted Alicia with a hug. The vampire woman rolled her eyes and passed Ulla the keys before walking towards the castle.
"What are you doing here?" gasped Alicia.
"Well, we thought we would go on a Halloween trip. You know how much I like old monster movies!" grinned Sharon. "But, I didn't realize this was so close to your school!"
"It's a few hours away. We drove up here!" Alicia replied.
"Oh! We? Want me to give you some space?"
"Not a date! Beth and Katie dragged me up here," chuckled Alicia, "I'm just along for the ride."
"Oh! You're like Ulla!" Sharon smirked. "She's a scaredy-cat," she added in a stage whisper. Ulla put her hands on her hips and shook her head dismissively.
"We should unpack," interjected Ulla, "so I can lock the car."
"Right, right," nodded Sharon.
"I'll help!" added Alicia as she followed her Mom and her partners towards their car. As they got to the car and opened the trunk, Mara motioned towards Alicia's gloves.
"Came prepared, I see," she whispered.
"Yeah. I'm presuming you've heard?"
"Disappearances. Yeah. A lot of weird stuff going on up here," nodded Mara. "I'm not sure, but something about this rubs me the wrong way." She gently reached into her pocket and revealed the top of her system.
"Yeah," replied Alicia.
"When we're together there is nothing that can stand in our way," smiled Sharon as she leaned into the conversation.
"But still, you could have told me!" giggled Alicia.
"I didn't want to pull you from your Halloween fun for a silly thing like this," replied Sharon. "It likely isn't much. Just a group of weirdos going a bit too far with their promotion."
"Right," aded Ulla, "We have no records of vampires being a thing."
"I would have said that about superheroines until you came along," corrected Alicia.
"You got me there," chuckled Ulla as she pulled two cases out of the car. "But still. This makes no sense."
"What I've been thinking," replied Alicia as she picked up a case and started to follow Mara back towards the caravans, "Too public to be a cover-up, but not public enough to be obvious publicity."
"Well, whatever it is, we get a vacation out of it!" grinned Sharon. "I'm excited and ready for some spooky fun! Have you seen the stuff they advertised?"
"I've not really looked into it," Alicia remarked. "I got distracted."
"Well," Sharon began as she watched Mara open their caravan, "You're in for a lot of surprises. I'm not going to spoil it."
"Huh, less weird than I thought," smiled Ulla as she walked into the caravan. Alicia hadn't had the chance to check hers out, so she spent a few minutes soaking in the decor.
It was obvious that all of these caravans were off-the-shelf rentals from somewhere. Aside from some cheap Halloween-store nicknacks on the shelf and a bowl of candy on the dresser, there wasn't anything Halloween-ey about the place. This would make sense. It was a bedroom, after all.
"I'll let you guys unpack," smiled Alicia. "I kinda ran off without saying anything."
"Oh yes!" nodded Sharon.
However, before she could finish her sentence Mara started to loudly talk. "Oh gosh isn't this cute!" she said as she took pictures of the room. "Oh so cute! Spooky and atmospheric! I need a photo," she continued in an obnoxious voice as she waved her phone around. Alicia was confused at first, but caught a glimpse of Mara's phone screen. She was scanning the room for bugs.
"Yeah, super cute!" giggled Alicia, trying her best to play along. "Let me know if you need me," she added as she quickly left the caravan and moved back to hers.
As she opened the door, she saw Beth and Katie sat on the bed. "What happened to you?" asked Beth. "We thought you had run back down the mountain!"
"Funny story!" Alicia chuckled as she sat down on the bed. "My mom is here!"
"What? No way!" gasped Katie. "Why?"
"My Mom loves her monster movies, so her partners brought her as a Halloween treat." Alicia explained with a smile.
"And they didn't tell you?" Beth replied, surprised.
"They didn't realize how close this place is to me!" chuckled Alicia before clapping her hands. "But, anyhow! What's the plan? I didn't look up much about this!"
"Really?" gasped Katie. "You're braver than I am."
"Nah, just busy!" Alicia dismissed with a smile. "Didn't have time to work stuff out."
"Well," began Beth as she looked at her phone. "First we get to do one of the castle walk-throughs, and then dinner, and then the forest walk. Tonight we get spooked in here."
"Which I'm not looking forward to," shuddered Katie.
"Don't worry about it. It won't be bad." nodded Alicia as she gently rubbed Katie's back. "Basic caravan. Unless they come in through the roof, there is only one way in and one way out."
"Oh!" gasped Katie. "I hadn't realized."
"Well, they could also come in via the toilet. But I doubt anyone is getting paid enough to swim through sewage." giggled Alicia.
"Right," nodded Katie. "That's weirdly comforting."
"Weirdly comforting is my brand," giggled Alicia as she went to her bag and grabbed a bottle of water. The girls spent the next little bit talking and freshening up after the drive. Being stuck in a car for several hours had a way of making you feel musty, so a shower was very much needed.